Harlow Library played host to Parents and Children Together (PACT) for Autism today (Tuesday March 18), a charity that supports parents, carers and individuals.

In 2005, the group was founded as PACT (Harlow) and became PACT for Autism in June 2012. The charity provides services in Harlow and Bishop’s Stortford.

Autism is on the rise with around 700,000 people (more than 1 in 100) in the UK living with autism. In the 1970s the figure was just 1 in 1000. Autism affects more men than women.

People who suffer from autism are usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 18 months, however there are still adults getting diagnosed with this condition today. Autism is a genetic disorder but the reason some people have this condition is still unknown. It is a life-long condition; someone who autism can never be cured as it is not an illness or disease. This disorder affects how people see, feel and understand the world.

Debbie Hannam has worked for the charity for three years full time but was one of the founding members in 2005. She said ‘There are lots of charities out there to help support those with this condition as we don’t have a lot of advice from local authority’s. Most of the support families receive comes from charities like us.’

Debbie’s 18-year-old son has autism and she said ‘Parents have to fight a lot of corners as many people don’t understand why our children are acting the way they are.’

 Parents who have children with autism are full time carers to their children. However, those with Asperger syndrome, a condition that links with autism, can be independent and don’t require constant care. Those who have this condition often suffer from Fragile X syndrome or ADHD or Epilepsy.

The aim of PACT’s programme today is to create as much awareness as possible and to give support and advice to those with autism and their families.

For more information please visit

www.pactforautism.org.uk and http://www.autism.org.uk